UK Organisations asked to, “Take the Test” Business leaders encourage UK organisations to become agile 17 November 2014 – The Agile Future Forum (AFF) held an event in London to promote the economic benefits of agile working for individual businesses as well as UK plc.

The event, hosted by Lloyds Banking Group, the founder of the AFF, welcomed several prominent industry leaders as guest speakers and attendees drawn from a diverse range of businesses, organisations, and professional bodies.  The purpose of the evening’s event was twofold – to initiate a debate on how UK businesses can maximise the benefits of agility and to launch a ‘call to action’ for every UK business to take the AFF agility test as a first step to realising the benefits of workforce agility.

Following its report last year, Understanding the Benefits of Workforce Agility, the AFF has established and promoted the business case for adopting agile working practices.  The report, and the individual experiences of the AFF member companies, demonstrates that there is significant business value for companies to become more agile.  At the event, Sir Win Bischoff, former Chairman of Lloyd’s Banking Group and Chair of the AFF, stated: “The 22 founding members of the AFF are all very different businesses but we all share a common belief, that workforce agility is generating tangible economic benefits for us as individual organisations and for UK plc.  As AFF members, we are working together to engage other CEOs across the UK in considering the value agile working can bring to their businesses and ultimately the UK economy.  Today, we invite every business and organisation to take the AFF agility test to see how agile they are and to join us in realising the value of becoming agile.”

The external business environment has changed significantly since the 1980s – advances in technology; changing customer demands and 24/7 access to goods and services; demographic and social changes; and increased globalisation all have created the need for a new model of work.  Traditional models are no longer meeting the demands of today’s business environment and new, agile models are required.  A recent CBI survey revealed that whilst 97% of UK businesses believe that agility is key to economic growth, many organisations have a limited range of agile working practices.  Most of us are still organised on the traditional models of work: 9am-5pm, 5 days a week; start at 16 retire at 60; commute to the centre of town.  There is greater complexity in today’s business environment and it is clear that traditional models of work will continue to come under increasing strain.  It is evident, from both the AFF’s research and the experience of its members and partners, that more flexible models of work will be required as the need for agility becomes a key focus of the modern competitive organisation.

Simon Collins, Managing Partner of KPMG and one of the founding members of the AFF, commented: “The world is changing and there is real value in adopting more agile ways of working, but are we ready to meet the challenges that we face? That question prompted us to undertake a KPMG agility readiness survey of leading UK businesses. The results revealed that while many businesses have made great inroads, we have only just been making changes to the edges.  There is a lot more to do.  The model on which most businesses are based needs to change in order to maximise the benefits of agility. This is the purpose of the AFF – to support organisations to transform the way we work in a way that benefits businesses as well as employees, shareholders, customers and the wider economy.”

Adam Crozier, CEO ITV, another founding member of the AFF, added: “Becoming agile is about ensuring your sustainability as a business.  ITV’s focus on adopting agile working practices has enabled us to concentrate on what we do best – delivering what our consumers want, great content.  An agile business is better equipped to manage the challenges of today’s global market place from attracting and retaining the best talent to taking advantage of advances in technology to reduce costs. The AFF has demonstrated that the benefits of being agile apply to organisations across sectors and regardless of size and that agility is key to ensuring your organisation remains competitive, sustainable and fit for the future.”

Addressing the benefits of agility to the UK economy, Sir Nicholas MacPherson, Permanent Secretary to the Treasury, commented on the research that his team has recently completed on the macroeconomic benefits of agility. “The UK has a real opportunity to take the global lead on developing an agile business sector that promotes UK competitiveness that is sustained by growth and innovation. The UK is in a strong position to take the global lead on establishing an agile workforce that delivers benefits to the business sector and the UK economy.  A collaborative effort between business, government and policy makers is required to ensure that we maximise the value that we know agility can deliver to our economy.  The AFF has a key role to play in facilitating and supporting the organisations as they transition from traditional models of work to those based on agility.”

In conclusion, Fiona Cannon Group Director, Diversity and Inclusion, Lloyds Banking Group and Director of the AFF remarked, “The AFF is committed to ensuring that UK businesses are fully aware of the value of adopting agile working practices.  Our research and our members’ experiences all demonstrate that agility benefits business as well as employees and is an important way for organisations to meet their strategic business goals in a challenging, globally competitive market place.  We invite every organisation in the UK to take the AFF agility test and commit to adopting agile working practices.”